CHARLES Perrault’s 17th century, two-part literary tale, later melded into one by the brothers Grimm, of a curse laid on a beautiful princess by a fairy peeved by not getting invited to her christening, has endured time’s ravages well.
Linda Woolverton’s adaptation of it for Robert Stromberg’s debut as director after an impressive career in special effects picks up the principal elements of Perrault’s first part, leaving room to pick up the other one if its economic possibilities show promise.
Angelina Jolie wears a kooky set of horns throughout her performance in the title role. Elle Fanning is pretty rather than beautiful as Aurora approaching her 16th birthday which Maleficent has programmed to initiate the sleeping curse until someone who really loves her comes along and kisses her. Stromberg and his crew have created spectacular sets and effects. It all looks good and the drama holds our attention as it should.
It’s a production from Disney which makes its own rules about depicting fantasy objects and characters. The cutesy-poo inhabitants of the peaceful land that the ageing king covets are familiar. The trees that become warriors against the king’s army are scary. The inept fairies Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Thistletwit (Juno Temple) and Flittle (Lesley Manville) assigned to rear the newborn Aurora to adolescence provide a leavening of slapstick comedy.
Sharlto Copley snarls a lot as ambitious lord Stefan who steals the teenaged Maleficent’s wings as she lies in post-coital languor, thereby earning her enduring hatred. Sam Riley plays Maleficent’s familiar Diavel, who can transform himself from a crow into a wolf or a dragon as the situation demands.
Is this suitable fare for kiddiewids? Based on a sample comprising one small girl sitting in front of me, yes, it is. Would Perrault and the Grimms have endorsed it? I think they might have.
At all cinemas